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Pandemics of the Past – Remembering the Spanish Flu

March 14, 2020

By: Adam Reeson

As the citizen’s of Saskatchewan come to grips with the COVID19 (Coronavirus), it can be difficult to decide how to handle the situation.

Should we continue our day-to-day lives as we always do? Do we take mild precautions, such as rigorous hand washing? Or, should we hibernate indoors and isolate ourselves from society?

Certainly, there is no obvious answer to those questions. How we handle the Coronavirus is a fluid situation, which can evolve rapidly based on what we hear in the news. Although we can’t predict the future of COVID19 in Saskatchewan, we can learn about similar situations from the past to help us prepare for what might be ahead.

The Spanish Influenza

As North America’s victorious Veterans returned home after the first World War, they brought with them an unwanted souvenir. The Spanish Influenza rapidly spread across the prairies, with the brunt of the damage taking place in the fall of 1918.

In October of that year, an estimated 2,000 people in Regina, Saskatchewan were suffering from the Spanish Flu. To slow the rapid spread of the pandemic, drastic measures were taken. Schools, churches, theaters and even some business were closed in the Queen City. To accommodate the hundreds of casualties, additional staff were hired to help dig graves at the Regina Cemetery. By the end of the pandemic in 1920, 330 people in Regina were dead.

 

Truly, this was one of the darkest chapters in the history of Regina. But, until recently, the local impact of the Spanish Flu wasn’t widely known or talked about. I started learning more about it in 2017 when Kenton de Jong, a local blogger, started researching why there was a large section of graves at the Regina Cemetery which were mostly unmarked. He took it upon himself to thoroughly research who is buried there and why there is little to no memorialization. After concluding that the majority of the unmarked graves were likely Spanish Flu victims, de Jong created reginaspanishflu.ca which features an in-depth timeline of the events that brought our community to its knees a century ago.

 

Moving Forward

Now, I’m no health expert and am by no means trying to make a direct comparison between the Spanish Influenza (which killed 20-50 million people worldwide) and the Coronavirus. Furthermore, I’m not writing this to tell anyone else what they should or should not do in this emerging situation. However, there is a final chapter to the Spanish Flu story in Regina which can help articulate how serious this situation might be.

After concluding his research, Kenton de Jong was inspired to do what he could to create a permanent monument in honour of the largely forgotten flu fatalities. With his leadership, in partnership with several local businesses and community organizations, de Jong achieved his goal when the Regina Spanish Flu Memorial was officially unveiled in December of 2017.

Frontier Monuments was involved in the project, helping design and manufacture the Barre Grey Granite memorial. It was one of the highlights of my career and a very proud moment for our business to help create a public memorial for today and generations to come in our community.

Having said all of that, the recent outbreak of COVID19 has been a very real reminder that 100 years later, we are not immune to another significant healthcare crisis. So let’s not panic, but proceed with caution. As a community, we can do our part to get through this and ensure that a Regina Coronavirus monument never needs to be made.

For Frontier Monuments, I’m Adam Reeson.

*Information and pictures provided by Kenton de Jong and reginaspanishflu.ca

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Testimonials

  • "We are all so pleased with the marker. It turned out exactly how we wanted and the install looks great. Thanks again for working with us. I know it has been a bit challenging given the distance between us but the end product was spot on."
    Rick
    British Columbia
  • "My family and I went to see the marker today, it looks perfect! My family said to thank you for your fine service."
    Carole
    Regina, Saskatchewan
  • "Adam at Frontier Monuments was very good to deal with. He met with us to discuss possibilities and he made knowledgeable and helpful suggestions. He was sensitive to our needs and all information given was clearly explained. The memorial plaque was prepared and installed on time and met all of our expectations--it was beautifully done."
    Laurie
    Regina, Saskatchewan
  • "Adam professionally presented the products and options available. His samples were very helpful in picturing the final pillow style monument. He provided several practical suggestions with lots of detail showing his great product knowledge. He impressed me by taking our unique request and perfectly capturing it in Granite. Adam provided exceptional service and was very patient with all of my questions, thanks Adam! I highly recommend Frontier Monuments, the service and value he delivers honours the life of your loved one."
    Marc
    Regina, Saskatchewan
  • "Adam was excellent during this process, lots of communication so we always knew where things were at. He did a beautiful job for our family"
    Lisa
    Broadview, Saskatchewan
  • "Adam was recommended to me by a Regina funeral home. Adam was professional, sensitive and very prompt in his communications with me. As winter settled in he needed to delay the completion of the cleaning and refused my payment offer until the job was completed. Sadly, I lost my Mother in Regina over Christmas and again I reached out to Adam for a marker for her. He was so compassionate and understanding, taking care to listen and hear what my sister and myself wanted and lead us through this process. Even though I am not in Saskatchewan and due to the present situation have no ability to be there anytime soon Adam ensured the marker was created and laid the week before Mother's Day. He then sent pictures to me. So very thoughtful. "
    Kim
    British Columbia
  • "You were a pleasure to work with Adam and we thank you for everything you did for us, especially being a province away and doing everything via phone and email, much appreciated!"
    Sheila
    Red Deer, Alberta
  • "I wanted a unique headstone for a unique person. I created a custom design with the guidance from Adam Reeson. This was all done via the Internet since I do not live in the province in which it was to be installed. Adam cheerfully assisted me through the process with numerous suggestions of ways to improve the appearance and to cut costs. All of my numerous questions were very quickly responded to without my feeling like I was imposing on him. The result is a unique, beautiful, and everlasting tribute of which I am very proud. Thank you Adam."
    Linda
    British Columbia
  • "A pleasure to deal with, quote was very well priced and the job was done to perfection and on time. A fitting memorial to my Canadian relatives. Adam made time to meet with us when we were in Regina so we could personally thank him for a job well done. We would gladly endorse this business. "
    Sheila/Michael
    Australia
  • "Thank you very much for the great work and service that you provided for our family. I will certainly recommend you to anybody I know that needs your services."
    Des
    Regina, Saskatchewan
  • "Thank you so much for the beautiful monument, everyone who has seen it is very impressed, as we are. Our Daughter was very impressed with you and your crew and the job you did. Thank you"
    Shirley
    Norquay, Saskatchewan
  • "Hi Adam, Thank you for all you did for our family. We had the burial on Sunday and the stone looks amazing. It is more than I could have asked for."
    Kerry
    Ontario
  • "Through this tough process, Adam was nothing but kind and caring. This stuff is not easy but Adam and his team took care of everything and made life a little easier for my family. I definitely recommend Frontier Monuments."
    Jessica
    Raymore, Saskatchewan
  • "I was able to stop by the cemetery and see the monument. It looks great! I am very happy with it and I'm sure the rest of the family members will be too. Thank you for all you're assistance in helping with this step. I will be sure to recommend you to others."
    Kevin
    Estevan, Saskatchewan
  • "Hey Adam. Thanks for everything you did to get everything done and finished for us. Impressive job. Thanks very much."
    Doug
    Nokomis, Saskatchewan
  • "Our experience with Frontier Monuments and Adam was exceptional in a difficult time for the family. Adam was prompt and professional and communicated with me every step of the way. We asked for a bit of a customized monument and Adam worked with me without hesitation to get the look we wanted. The end result is exactly what we hoped for. I recommend Adam and his company without hesitation."
    Dale
    Emerald Park, Saskatchewan
  • "Professional, very personable. Extremely knowledgeable. Great prices and service. The marker I wanted was done to perfection. I highly recommend this company."
    Kory
    Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan
  • "Beautiful work... thank-you so much. Glad to have this done now. We appreciate your hard work and dedication."
    Sandra/Arlene
    Qu'appelle, Saskatchewan

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